Horse ownership - tips you need to know
Horses are magnificent animals – but they also can be dangerous due to their large size and strength. It’s important for all people handling horses to be properly trained in how to manage them and approach them safely, whether the horse is used for pleasure riding, competition or just kept as a pet.
Potential owners need to realise that like all animals, there is a responsibility associated with owning a horse. These graceful animals are a long-term commitment and they need significant time and attention to ensure they are kept happy and healthy. As they are large animals, the cost of their upkeep must be considered, from feeding to grooming to regular veterinary care.
Everyone working with or dealing with horses needs to be careful, whether they are beginner riders or experienced handlers. Horses can be easily startled and can be unpredictable in their behaviour at times. Special care should be exercised around children and no child should ever be left unattended with a horse.
Here are 5 tips to owning and interacting with horses:
- Choose your horse carefully - When purchasing a horse, enlist the help of an experienced horse person. It is important to make sure the horse you choose suits your situation – and your level of riding experience. Before purchase, organise a veterinary check to ensure the health and soundness of the horse. As with any animal, ensure that vaccinations and parasite preventative are up to date.
- Check the equipment -It is important to ensure that the horse’s tack is good quality, properly fitted and appropriate to the needs of the rider and the horse. Everything, including the saddle, saddle blanket, bridle, grooming gear, feed and water container should be cleaned regularly. Riders and handlers should wear long pants and boots with a smooth sole, as heavy tread can get caught in the stirrups. A helmet is also recommended.
- Educate yourself about horses - Learn as much as you can about horses and their habits. Take time to study your horse and understand its behaviour. If you’re a beginner rider, joining a pony club where you can learn good habits and new skills and see different horses and riders in action. A good riding instructor is also recommended.
- Look after your horse - A well-cared-for horse will always be better behaved. Ensure that they always have fresh, clean water and enough feed. Check your horse at least daily to make sure it has enough feed and water and is not injured or ill. Consult a veterinarian if you suspect something is not right. If handled frequently, your horse will be easier to manage when the farrier or veterinarian comes.
- Be careful when transporting horses - Transport of horses must be done carefully as this can be risky for all involved. Horses that have not been trained for transport can be difficult and sometimes dangerous. It is important that you have the right type of equipment and horse moving vehicle to transport your horse in. If necessary, organise to have experienced horse handlers with you when helping your horse on and off transport.